Seeking the protection of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals and the environment, many parishes around the Diocese of Trenton have been holding pet blessing ceremonies on or around the 12th-century saint’s Oct. 4 feast day.
The familiar image of the gentle saint, preaching to animals, fish included, and encouraging a loving care for creation, has endeared the saint and the tradition of blessing the animals to the hearts of many.
Pope Francis, who chose the name Francis because he was inspired by the saint, said of him: “He loved nature, animals, the blade of grass on the lawn and the birds flying in the sky. But above all he loved people, children, old people, women.”
He is, said the Pope, a shining example of agape, the highest form of love.